Saturday, September 26, 2009

To the edge of space, using common household items

Well, maybe not things you have sitting around your house right now, but things the average person could procure without too much trouble, thanks to the resources made available by the world-wide interwebs and the matryoshka doll-inization of technology.

Submitted for your approval, a group of guys from Canada and Japan use a weather balloon to lift a Canon HD camcorder to the edge of space, over 20 miles up, tracking it with an attached GPS.

It takes 3 hours and 6 minutes to reach altitude of 107,145 feet, at which point the balloon membrane succumbs to the ideal gas law and pops. Next comes 49 minutes of near-freefall in which the rig is slowed only by the friction of the thin air and a tangled parachute, finally reuniting with Mother Earth 89 miles downrange after nearly four hours aloft.

Here's the video, but please let me warn you that there was no camera stabilization mechanism used. So if you're susceptible to motion sickness or have recently eaten dinner, beware.

Detailed text account by project members here.

My favorite part of the video is how the sounds of civilization slowly fade as the camera climbs higher and higher, until there is nothing but the cold, dark silence of near-vacuum.

Also note the changing perspective of the TV tower in the distance as the camera pans over it each time.